Brewers hang on after wild ninth

April 30, 2012

> Sorry for the lack of posts lately (it feels like I have to say that too often nowadays). Schoolwork and things like that have been piling up recently, so I just decided to take a bit of a hiatus from Breaking Wisconsin and Reviewing the Brew to make sure I stayed on top of my work. Plus, the Brewers had a three-game losing streak going into today, so it wasn’t like I was missing much, as far as posting goes.

> But I figured today would be a good day to come back. The Brewers managed to salvage one game out of this dismal series with the Cardinals, winning 3-2. Zack Greinke notched his third win of the season, and the Brewers managed to defeat Jaime Garcia at Busch Stadium for once. And, although the offense wasn’t somewhat non-existent for the third consecutive day, it was enough to take down the Cards.

For the second straight start, Greinke didn’t have his best stuff, but managed to pull a win out of his pocket. He went six innings while giving up one run on seven hits. His command wasn’t the sharpest, as he walked four and struck out just two. But, both of the strikeouts came against the Cards’ hottest hitter, David Freese, so it’s nice to know we have someone on the team capable of getting him out.

The Cardinals got on the board first in the second inning on Rafael Furcal’s RBI single. After that, I thought the Brewers were in for another rough day of bad pitching. But Greinke managed to dance around trouble every time he got into a jam after that.

The Brewers finally tied up the game in the sixth on Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single. A few batters later, Jonathan Lucroy hit a go-ahead, two-RBI double to give the Brewers a 3-1 lead that they wouldn’t again give up.

But they had to work for it. John Axford came on for the save in the ninth inning, and it didn’t start well. He walked Matt Holliday to lead off the inning, then gave up a single to Carlos Beltran. That advanced Tyler Greene (pinch-running for Holliday) to third. Axford then rallied to strike out Freese (man did it feel good to see him strike out three times). Axe then struck out another hot-hitting Cardinal, Yadier Molina, and that’s when the drama started. As Molina struck out, Beltran broke for second base. Lucroy threw down to second where Alex Gonzalez caught the ball, and they had Beltran in a rundown. As Gonzalez was chasing Beltran back to first, Greene broke for home in a dangerous attempt to tie the game. Gonzalez then threw back to Lucroy at home, and they tagged out Greene for a shocking finish to the game.

Regardless of all that happened, this was Axford’s 48th consecutive save, and he’s well into elite company at this point. 48 is the fourth longest save streak in Major League history, which is incredible, especially if you know Axford’s back story.

> The Brewers made a couple of roster moves prior to today’s game, sending Mike McClendon back to Triple-A. They called up journeyman Vinnie Chulk, who last pitched in the Majors in 2009 for the Indians.

But it was only a matter of time before McClendon was sent down. I used to have high hopes for this guy, especially when he was called up in September of 2010- he looked great. But now his mechanics are completely out of whack, and he doesn’t have any command. He ate up some valuable innings while he was up, but the 10.13 ERA was too much.

> On a non-Brewers note, Prince Fielder hit a home run today off another ex-Brewer, CC Sabathia. Fielder looked like a fool against CC in Interleague play last year, but the homer he hit today was a mammoth- and I mean a mammoth. But the Yankees still wound up winning, as the Tigers’ recent struggles continue.

> Tomorrow, the Brewers head out to the west coast for the first time this year, and will take on the Padres in a three-game series. Here are the pitching match-ups:

Randy Wolf (1-2, 7.17 ERA) vs. Joe Wieland (0-3, 4.76)

Shaun Marcum (1-1, 4.13 ERA) vs. Edinson Volquez (0-2, 3.60 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (1-2, 6.08 ERA) vs. Cory Luebke (3-1, 2.61 ERA)

As you can see, Wolf is going tomorrow, and he’s coming off a solid start against the Astros. But he struggled for the most part in his first three starts. Anyway, despite the fact the Padres have close to no offense, Wolf has had a tough time with his former team in his career, going 6-5 with a 5.51 ERA against them. Not quite sure how he has a winning record, though.

The Pads will counter with Wieland, who was called up a few weeks ago because of an injury to Tim Stauffer. From what I’ve seen, he hasn’t pitched particularly bad, but has just fallen victim to the “run support” of the Padres.

> Anyway, that’s about it. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

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Gallardo chased by Cards in Opening Day loss

April 7, 2012

> The good news is, baseball is officially back. The bad news? The Brewers just virtually relived Game 6 of the 2011 NLCS.

The Brewers got crushed by the reigning World Champion Cardinals today, 11-5. Yovani Gallardo, who was making his third consecutive Opening Day start, still couldn’t win on the occasion, as he was hammered early. He gave up six earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings, while walking five and striking out three. The five walks show that his command clearly wasn’t there, and there may have been some nerves. Either that, or he just plain sucks against the Cardinals like he always does, which is probably the case.

The Brewers got on the board first on Carlos Gomez’s RBI triple off Jaime Garcia in the first inning. Aramis Ramirez followed that with an RBI groundout for his first RBI as a Brewer. This gave the Brewers an early 2-0 lead. But things went downhill from there.

Yadier Molina led off the second inning with a solo shot off of Gallardo to cut the score in half. Then, in the third, Gallardo gave up not one, not two, but three home runs to the Cards- they came from Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, and David Freese. Freese tacked on another RBI with a single in the fourth. Another run wouldn’t come until the seventh on Shane Robinson’s RBI single. The Cards got two more in the ninth on RBI doubles by Matt Carpenter and Rafael Furcal.

The Brewers got three more runs in the ninth on a George Kottaras three-run blast, but by then the game was already too far out of reach.

> I’m really starting to worry about Gallardo. I know you can’t judge a pitcher based on one game, but I’m not basing this on one game- it’s starting to become a trend. Gallardo gave up a career-high 27 home runs last year, 15 more than his 2010 total. I was hoping he’d be able to put that behind him, but then he starts the year by giving up four home runs in less than four innings- that isn’t a good sign.

I’ve been saying this all along, but he hasn’t been consistent ever since the first half of 2010. Following an oblique injury after the All-Star break, he was just never the same since then. Yes, I know he went 17-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 2011, but that was because he either had a great outing, or got shelled. He’s just never been consistent. I’m not saying he has to be Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee consistent, but just something better than he is now.

And, despite the fact I’m tempted to use the excuse that Gallardo is just historically bad against the Cardinals (he was 1-7 with a 5.66 ERA against them coming into today), I don’t think that was it today. Like I said earlier, he had no command, hence the five walks, and everything was out over the plate.

I’m sorry for freaking out over one game (and I’m actually not really, I’m just worried about what Gallardo is turning into). I know there are 161 games left. But Gallardo’s outing today really puts worries into my mind about his future.

> None of the newcomers to the Brewers did much offensively today, with Ramirez and Alex Gonzalez both going 0-for-4. Although you could tell the defense on the left site was much improved. On the bright side, though, Mat Gamel went 2-for-4, so hopefully that’s a precursor of a good season to come for him.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers play the second game of this series tomorrow at 3:10 PM CT (and remember it’s on regular FOX, not FSWI). The Brewers will send Zack Greinke to the mound, who went 16-6 with a 3.83 ERA last year. He’s been better against the Cards in his career than Gallardo, to say the least, so hopefully we won’t see a merciless beating again tomorrow.

The Cardinals will counter with Adam Wainwright, who missed all of last year due to Tommy John Surgery. We’ll see how he bounces back in his first Major League start since the end of 2010.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Back after two weeks

March 25, 2012

> It always feels good to come back to blogging after a long layoff.

Unfortunately, though, this seems to have been happening to me a lot lately. But, now it shouldn’t happen again for a few months.

Anyway, I’m happy to be back. Posts will gradually start up again regularly (hopefully right away, actually), both on here and Reviewing the Brew. I don’t think much happened Brewers-related while I was away, but I’ll cover the little that did happen during that time now.

> The Brewers’ Spring Training recordhasballooned to an ugly 7-12 over the past few weeks. I know ST really doesn’t mean anything, but it is a bit of a cause for concern. The offense hasn’t done much lately, and the starting rotation is starting to return to earth after their stellar start to the spring. It’s not that they’re putting up bad numbers, but it isn’t much compared to what they were doing a few weeks ago.

Despite the lack of offense, there have been a few guys here and there who are turning heads early on. New shortstop Alex Gonzalez is hitting .400, and hit his first homer of the spring today against the White Sox. Jonathan Lucroy is continuing to tear it up, as he’s hitting .483 (although he was in the .600’s for awhile before falling to that average). If you consider the awful start Aramis Ramirez had, then his .276 average isn’t bad. Ramirez also hit his first homer of the spring today. Then there’s Mat Gamel, who’s hitting just .256, but his case is similar to Ramirez’s.

Unfortunately, Ryan Braun still hasn’t found his stride- he’s hitting just .095. But I’m not too worried about that; he’s Ryan Braun. He’ll find it eventually.

Like I said earlier, the pitching isn’t what it was earlier this spring, but it’s still solid. Yovani Gallardo’s ERA is 2.77, Zack Greinke’s is 0.73, Chris Narveson’s is 2.70, and Randy Wolf’s is 3.26. Most of those are actually great, but if you consider that all of them had 0.00 ERAs throughout the first few weeks of spring, they’re returning to earth.

Also, regarding Shaun Marcum’s status, he has yet to pitch in an ST game. But, it’s sounding more and more like he’ll be ready for Opening Day, which is a good sign.

That’s about it, Brewers-related at least.

> Chris Carpenter was probably dropping f-bombs about this one. It was reported that he’s been diagnosed with nerve inflammation in his right shoulder. That injury may be somehow related to the injuries he suffered earlier in his career during the 2004 and 2008 seasons.

Carpenter was the Cardinals’ projected Opening Day starter after going 11-9 with a 3.45 ERA last year (along with a 3-0 postseason mark). But now the job is going to go to Kyle Lohse, who went 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 2011. The Cardinals also have to use Lance Lynn in their rotation now with Carpenter out. So their rotation, in order at this point, is Lohse, Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright, Lynn, and Jake Westbrook.

> Meanwhile in Cincinnati, it appears the Reds have lost their projected closer for this year. Ryan Madson, who was signed to a one-year deal a few months back, is having season-ending Tommy John surgery before he even appeared in a Cactus League game. The Reds will probably have to turn to lefty Sean Marshall to be there closer now, as he’s one of the only choices in their bullpen after they let Francisco Cordero walk.

> Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got for now. I should have a post up on RtB tomorrow; I think I’ve got an idea for a topic. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Rangers take 3-2 lead in World Series

October 25, 2011

I don’t have much time on my hands right now, but I’m going to write as much as I can.

The Rangers are just one win away from their first World Series title in their history (excluding ones won as the Washington Senators). The hero was Mike Napoli, whose two-run double in the eighth inning proved to be the decisive factor. The Rangers also got monster home runs Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltre, both of which came off of Chris Carpenter. I also have something to say about Carpenter, but I’m going to save that until tomorrow. I might do a whole article on it, actually.

Anyway, for the second straight night, Tony La Russa’s clown car again backfired. Napoli’s two-run double came off of Marc Rzepczynski, a left-hander (Napoli is a righty). But, after Napoli’s double, La Russa went to get Lance Lynn- a right-hander- out of the bullpen. So Lynn intentionally walks Ian Kinsler, and then La Russa yanks him and puts in Jason Motte. I know La Russa loves cycling through relievers as fast as he can, but is it really necessary to waste pitchers like that? Because what if the Cards tied the game, and it went into extra innings? Lynn, who used to be a starter, would have been valuable to eat up some those innings. But that wouldn’t have happened, because La Russa wasted him for an intentional walk.

I’ll update more tomorrow. Also note tomorrow is a travel day, so there’s no game, but the day after tomorrow, Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40 ERA) and Jaime Garcia (13-7, 3.56 ERA) will face off in St. Louis.


In the end, was Roenicke too friendly?

October 21, 2011

The 107th World Series is now all evened up at 1-1. The Rangers managed to snatch a win from the Cardinals today in the ninth inning, as the clown car- or bullpen, if you prefer to call it that- finally imploded for the Cards.

I’m still somewhat depressed that the Brewers aren’t playing in this series. But, as I explained in yesterday’s post, that awful defense pretty much made it impossible. Anyway, I’m not going to ramble on about the World Series for the rest of this post. That would be kind of pointless for me, considering this is a Brewers blog. Rather, I’m going to continue that post from yesterday, because I didn’t get to say everything I wanted to about how the Brewers pretty much prevented themselves from winning that series.

I started to talk about Ron Roenicke towards the end of that post, and here’s what I was going to say- he got to0 friendly with the team.

Now, I don’t mean Roenicke should start being harsh on the Brewers and scold them for every little thing (although that would still be better than what Ken Macha did). But, the manager of a team isn’t really supposed to be a friend- he’s the manager.

What I’m getting at is Roenicke’s choice for starting Shaun Marcum in Game 6- the deciding game of the Brewers’ season. Roenicke knew that Marcum was struggling- it’s hard not to notice that a guy has a 12.46 postseason ERA (going into that start). Yet, he chose to start him. And that was probably an attempt to save Marcum’s ego- which is what I mean by Roenicke being too friendly towards him.

Roenicke didn’t want Marcum to go down in Brewers’ history as the guy who flamed out during the most important part of the season. So, he tried to give him one last chance to prove himself, and it obviously didn’t go too well- one inning, four earned runs. The Brewers clearly made some threats after that, but an early four-run deficit is just usually too much to recover from.

Anyway, instead of saving Marcum’s reputation like he was trying to, Roenicke simply made the legacy worse. In my opinion, he would have been better off just leaving Marcum alone and not starting him for the rest of the postseason, because he clearly wasn’t on his game. But, now the Brewers’ season is over- and that mistake is going to loom over Roenicke for quite some time.

And he was out-managed in the NLCS by the most hated man in Wisconsin, Tony La Russa. La Russa wasn’t trying to be friendly to his starters- or any players- all season. During the regular season, he would give starting pitchers as much as 11 days rest (notably Kyle Lohse and Jaime Garcia). I guess that isn’t a very good point, but it’s definitely what Roenicke should have done in this situation. Anyway, La Russa also used his clown car at the perfect time in every game, and wasn’t afraid to be Captain Hook towards his starters. He simply managed better than Roenicke during the NLCS. Anyway, as I much as I hate La Russa, I hope Roenicke, a first-year manager, learned something from this experience.

But back to Marcum. He’s getting sort of a lot of hate right now that he doesn’t really deserve. I don’t blame Marcum for this situation at all, because, if he’s simply in a slump, he probably shouldn’t be starting in the postseason. I blame Roenicke for starting him even though he knew he was struggling.

By the way- I still refuse to compare Marcum to Jeff Suppan. That’s just an idiotic comparison, and you all know it.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Feel free to leave your comments/thoughts below. And thanks for all the views lately- this site is getting more than it ever has.


Wolf comes through as Brewers even series at 2-2

October 14, 2011

This is exactly what the Brewers needed. Making a comeback after an early deficit, and a good start from someone not named Yovani Gallardo.

The Brewers defeated the Cardinals today, 4-2, in a crucial win for them. Had they lost today, the Cardinals would have needed only to win tomorrow to go to the World Series. But, with the win today, the NLCS is now evened up at 2-2- and it’s still there for anyone to take.

Randy Wolf came through right when the Brewers needed him. He went seven strong innings while giving up two runs on six hits. He also walked one and struck out six. If you compare this to Wolf’s last start- when his ERA finished at 22.50 after four innings in a start against the Diamondbacks during the NLDS- this was as good as it gets.

The Cardinals struck first yet again today. They’ve now scored the first run in every game this series. Today, the first run came from a Matt Holliday “home run”- if you can even call it that. Holliday got way under- and I mean way under- a pitch away from him, and it just stayed inside the foul pole, and barely made if over the wall. I swear, it was the luckiest home run I’ve ever seen (other than maybe Jake Westbrook’s grand slam earlier this year against the Brewers). Anyway, the second Cardinals run came on a home run by Allen Craig. At least he deserved his home run…

But the Brewers finally got some clutch hits, starting in the fourth inning. Jerry Hairston Jr. hit a RBI double to cut the deficit to 2-1, then Yuniesky Betancourt followed up with a RBI single to tie it up. The Brewers would then take the lead in the fifth on Ryan Braun’s RBI single. They scored their fourth and final run in the sixth inning when George Kottaras reached on a fielding error by second baseman Ryan Theriot, which allowed Rickie Weeks to score.

Anyway, the Brewers finished with scoreless innings from Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford. And Axford hit 99 MPH for the first time, at least that I’ve seen.

Here’s kind of a crazy stat about Cardinals pitching in this series- none of their pitchers have made it past the fifth inning, and their cumulative ERA is over 7.00. I can’t even believe they’re winning games with their pitchers not going deep. But the clown car- excuse me, the Cardinals’ bullpen- has had to do a lot of work. They got it done yesterday after Chris Carpenter’s five innings start, but couldn’t today after Kyle Lohse’s 4 1/3 inning start. It was actually Mitchell Boggs who allowed the go-ahead to Braun, but the runner was inherited from Lohse, so he still took the loss.

Tomorrow is a big game for the Brewers. If they win, they take the series lead and have the advantage to win, but same goes for the Cards if they win. Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83 ERA) will go for the Brewers, and he’s coming off a rough start in Game 1. He allowed six runs in 6+ innings, but still took the win, thanks to nine runs of support. The Cardinals will counter with Jaime Garcia (13-7, 3.56 ERA), who also had a rough start in Game 1: he gave up six runs in four innings. But, Garcia has pitched much better at Busch Stadium than on the road this year- in fact, he has a complete game shutout against the Brewers at Busch this year.


Brewers win slugfest, take 1-0 advangate in NLCS

October 10, 2011

Today’s game was one of the best games I’ve ever been to. From Tony La Russa getting booed so loud that you can’t hear yourself think, to the huge fifth inning for the Brewers, to John Axford closing it out- it doesn’t get much better than that for a Brewers fan.

The Brewers hammered the Cardinals today, 9-6, and took a 1-0 advantage over them in the NLCS. The pitching was pretty shaky for both sides, as seen by the score, which you didn’t expect with today’s matchup of Zack Greinke and Jaime Garcia. But, at least Greinke’s undefeated record at home this year remained unscathed, despite his rough start.

Greinke went 6+ innings while giving up six runs on eight hits. He walked two and struck out six. And even though he gave up six runs, he got the win and remained undefeated at Miller Park this year. I read an article by Mike Bauman earlier today that got a little more in depth on that, but I’ll just say that I can’t believe it, either. No matter how many runs he gives up, he’s still invincible.

Garcia, on the other hand, also had a very shaky start. He went just 4+ innings while giving up six runs on six hits and took the loss. But Garcia made it interesting early by, after giving up a two-run homer to Ryan Braun in the first inning, beaning Prince Fielder on his first pitch to him. Warnings were issued, but nothing else really happened after that, as far as the bad blood between the Brewers and Cardinals.

The Cardinals struck first against Greinke on Matt Holliday’s RBI single in the first inning. But, the Brewers immediately answered back in the bottom of the inning on Braun’s two-run shot I talked about earlier. The Brewers preserved the lead until the fourth inning, when Greinke gave up a three-run home run to David Freese to give the Cards a 4-2 lead. The Cardinals also tacked on a fifth run on Lance Berkman’s RBI single in the fifth, but, after that, they just completely fell apart (pitching-wise, at least).

Corey Hart led off the fifth with a single, followed by Jerry Hairston Jr.’s double. That put runners on second and third with no outs, which brought Braun, a.k.a the new Mr. October, to the plate. He hit a ground-rule double to score Hart and Hairston, which cut the deficit to 5-4. Then, Fielder came up and hit a go-ahead two-run blast on the first pitch he saw from Garcia. That’s about as good as revenge gets.

But the inning wouldn’t stop there. After Garcia was removed, Octavio Dotel entered the game, and promptly made a throwing error on a play Rickie Weeks probably should have been out on. But, Weeks advanced to second on the play, which brought Yuniesky Betancourt to the plate. After a long battle with Dotel, Betancourt crushed a two-run homer to extend the Brewers’ lead to 8-5. After that, the bleeding finally stopped for the Cardinals, but the damage had been done, thanks to one of the greatest innings in Brewers’ postseason history.

The Cardinals’ sixth run came on a run that scored on an Albert Pujols double play, so that almost doesn’t even count. Meanwhile, the Brewers’ ninth run came on a Jonathan Lucroy RBI single (of course he starts hitting AFTER Ian Kennedy is gone).

I’ve been meaning to say this for awhile now, but Braun and Hairston are really having a spectacular postseason thus far. I guess coming in you expected Braun, who had four RBI today and hit .500 in the NLDS, to have a great postseason, but how about Hairston? He’s making Ron Roenicke look like a genius for starting him over Casey McGehee at third base for pretty much every postseason game so far, by hitting .375 in the NLDS. Hairston also went 2-for-4 today.

And here’s another thing I found hilarious today. If you’ve never been to a postseason game before, then you might not know that the announce every player and coach and have them run out onto the field and line up before the games. So, when La Russa ran out, he got booed like crazy, as I mentioned earlier. But I noticed him take off his cap and wave it to the fans, which is probably his way of making fun of those Milwaukee idiots- er, fans. Yes, Tony, Wisconsin absolutely loves you.

Tomorrow should be a pretty good pitching matchup between Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.54 ERA) and Edwin Jackson (12-9, 3.79 ERA). Marcum is in the midst of a series of bad outings right now, which started with a bad start against the Phillies, and continued with bad outings against the Rockies and Pirates to finish the season. It’s also bled into the postseason, as he went just 4 2/3 innings his last time out against the Diamondbacks, while giving up seven runs. So hopefully that all ends tomorrow.

By the way, one more thing before I go- the rest of my NLCS posts will probably be in collaboration with El Maquino ( @El_Maquino), who is the owner of a Cardinals blog. We’re probably still going to have to talk about it a little, but hopefully we’ll have it going by tomorrow night. Anyway, you can see El Maquino’s site here. Whether you’re a Brewers fan, Cardinals fan, or any fan, I’d recommend checking it out.